It was a calm sunny day in western North Dakota. The trip to the Kildeer Mountains seemed to take forever. The plan was simple, arrive at camp Thursday night, take care of some yearly maintenance Friday morning and hunt the rest of the weekend.
I was anxious, like a kid, the night before Christmas. I had dreamed about bow hunting for twenty years but something always got in the way, school, family, financials whatever, but not this time! I was tired of the excuses; it was time to start bow hunting.
In the excitement my right foot became heavy and the miles flew by quicker that we realized. We found ourselves at the cabin in the late afternoon. There was just enough time to go out and take in an evening hunt.
As we waited for the rest of our party to arrive we unpacked out gear and suited up in the camouflage of our choice. I decided to demo a new synthetic ghillie suit. When the rest of the party arrived they clambered out of the vehicles chuckling at the new guy walking around looking like a "big green sasquatch". They were skeptical, asking if ghillie suits even work. I didn"t really care because I was finally bow hunting.
Three of us decided to take in the hunt so we hopped on the 4-wheelers and rode to the edge of the Badlands. We dismounted and began the hike into the bottoms. Once in the coulee I picked a spot next to a large oak tree and near a group of birch trees. From this vantage point I had 2 good shooting lanes.
I sat down and made sure my ghillie suit would blend nicely into the tree and be adequate camouflage. Little more that a minute passed and the woods came alive. I could hear movement everywhere. After about 20 minutes I saw a nice Mule Deer buck. Unfortunately he wasn't going to cross into my shooting lanes. I scanned around and quickly found a shooting opportunity. It was an 8 inch by 8 inch window through some brush and below a fallen tree. Twenty-three and a half yards. I had to tell myself "You have been practicing, you can make this shot". The deer stepped behind a tree and I drew back. There was a long pause and then he stepped forward, but not far enough. He waited for what seemed like forever. My heart was pounding in my ears, sweat beaded on my brow. My arms began to quiver like giant columns of Jello. Finally when I thought I could hold no longer he turned back and bounded off into the woods.
I relaxed and regained my composure thinking how awesome it was to be able to draw back on my first hunt; when much to my surprise the ole buck returned. As he stepped behind the tree I waited. I waited for him to take one more step then I drew back. He froze, but this time he was in the perfect spot. I took a slow relaxed breath as I released and as the arrow zipped through the hole in the brush and found its mark, it set off something that I can only liken to a train wreck. The buck ran through the woods crashing into everything imaginable for about 3 seconds then there was silence, complete silence.
I waited about 15 minutes before I walked out and found the rest of the party and asked them to help me recover my quarry. As we stood around in the autumn twilight I had to chuckle and ask them if they believe in Sasquatch now.